This is a developing story and we will provide updates as new information becomes available.
The USS Fitzgerald, a US Navy destroyer collided with a Japanese merchant 2:30 a.m. local time Saturday. The destroyer, as seen from videos and photos, was heavily damaged and is taking on water and it appears that the cargo ship ran into the side of the destroyer. Three sailors were injured and medically evacuated from the ship and seven other sailors are currently missing.
One of the injured sailors was the commanding officer and he was MEDEVAC’d off the ship.
A retired Navy Captain who wished to remain unnamed told American Military News that “In the middle of the night large cargo ships can look like land on the horizon. Most likely someone on watch screwed up and someone will be relieved of duty.”
The US Navy provided this update:
As of this time, there have been two patients requiring medical evacuation. One was Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, who was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition. A second MEDEVAC is in progress. Other injured are being assessed. There are seven Sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them.
It is currently unclear how much flooding is occurring.
The US Navy statement also added:
“USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.
Although Fitzgerald is under her own power, USS Dewey (DDG 105) got underway this morning as well as several U.S. Navy aircraft, and will join Japanese Coast Guard and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters, ships and aircraft to render whatever assistance may be required.
“U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship. As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public. Thank you for your well wishes and messages of concern. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.
“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.””
The Fitzgerald is currently part of the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group that took part in training close to the Korean Peninsula. The training involved the USS Carl Vinson strike group, among others which has been seen as an American response to more aggressive North Korean provocation lately.
Here is a video of the damage:
Navy Commander Bryce Benson took command of the Fitzgerald last month.